Suspects snared after driving out of fire and into Fryingpan
A bum steer in navigation might have doomed two suspects in a vehicle who tried to outrun several law enforcement agencies Tuesday on Interstate 70, the Roaring Fork Valley and ultimately the Fryingpan Valley.
The Colorado State Patrol alerted law enforcement agencies in the valley at about 4:39 p.m. to stop and hold a Nissan Maxima that turned off I-70 west of Glenwood Springs after an encounter with troopers. The nature of that encounter wasn’t clear Tuesday evening.
Trooper Nate Reed of the Colorado State Patrol said the initial encounter with the vehicle was in Utah. A trooper in Colorado attempted to stop the eastbound vehicle between mile markers 12 and 20 in Colorado. A different trooper took up the chase at mile marker 85 but broke it off at mile marker 97, Reed said.
The vehicle was next reported passing Aspen Glen subdivision on Highway 82 at a high rate of speed. Basalt police officers, Eagle County deputy sheriffs and Pitkin County deputy sheriffs staged in the midvalley. An Eagle County deputy saw the vehicles turn onto Two Rivers Road, according to Basalt Police Chief Greg Knott. The deputy and Knott tailed the vehicle after it turned east up Fryingpan Road. Firefighters at Thomasville reported to authorities at 4:54 p.m. that a vehicle “blew by” the fire station moments earlier about 24 miles east of Basalt. The suspects’ car turned north 2 miles later on the Eagle-Thomasville Road. That gravel road is not plowed during winters, but navigation systems in vehicles and cellphones were suggesting the route to I-70 commuters as an alternative to bypass a closure in Glenwood Canyon due to a rock fall. It’s unknown if the suspects were traveling on that assumption, but Knott said that’s the only reason he could think of why they went that route.
The suspects’ Nissan got stuck about 1.5 miles up the Thomasville-Eagle road, Knott said. He and deputy ordered them out of their vehicle. They didn’t immediately respond but got out minutes later without confrontation, he said. Pitkin County deputies and a trooper also responded to the scene. The arrest was made in Pitkin County, but neither Basalt nor Pitkin County intended to file any charges, Knott said. The suspects were transported to Garfield County Jail.
The suspects’ names weren’t available, nor were the reasons for the arrest. Reed said he didn’t know if Colorado State Patrol would pursue charges or turn the suspects over to Utah authorities.
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With four officers either gone or set to leave, the Aspen Police Department is facing a staffing shortage. With the increase in mental health calls in recent years, the department is looking at officer candidates with a social services background.